6 Steps in Choosing a Financial Professional
Multiple surveys have concluded that Canadians are most prepared to handle life’s challenges when their financial house is in order. The same surveys also indicated that one of the obstacles Canadians face is that they do not know what steps to take to choose a financial professional.
Step 1: The financial situation
This first step involves looking at the individual’s personal situation. The questions that need to be answered are: Are there investable assets that require advice on how they should be managed? Does the family have special estate needs? Is there a life changing event or a financial decision that needs to be made which is causing uncertainty? Is a successful retirement plan important to the family? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then a financial professional can be engaged and add value.
Step 2: Determine the type of financial professional needed
Investment advisors and portfolio managers typically specialize in managing assets for their clients based on the investment policy statement aligned to the client’s goals and risk tolerance. Financial planners are experts in retirement, estate, and tax planning. Financial planners are the quarterbacks in the financial planning process and are best equipped to guide individuals around life changing events.
Step 3: Collect the names of financial professionals
Connect with family and friends to get a few recommendations for financial professionals. Surveys revealed that 25% of Canadians get financial guidance from their parents and friends. Another good starting point is looking at the major industry associations and governing bodies behind the designations financial professionals hold.
Step 4: Research the financial professionals
When engaging a financial professional, make sure to research before anyone is hired to manage the investments or provide financial planning advice. The industry has made it easier for consumers by making financial advisors’ professional backgrounds available to search. A Google search on any of the financial professionals that are being considered will also reveal information that is publicly available. The individual that provided the referral can also provide a testimonial.
Step 5: Schedule discovery meetings with the financial professionals
Be prepared to provide all relevant financial information and clearly define the financial goals to the financial professional. This will permit them to determine if they are in a position to help. It is also important to ask the financial professional what type of clients they typically work with. This will help gauge the compatibility between the individual and the financial professional.
Step 6: How does the financial professional get paid?
Fees are an important part of the conversation and must be clearly defined before engaging the services of a financial professional. Fees can be tied to a percentage of assets under management, a flat annual fee, an hourly rate, a per-plan fee, and a percentage commissions per transaction. It is important during the conversation to understand and identify any conflicts that may exist.
Conclusion: The resources and implementation
Regulatory financial organizations that describe well the different types of financial professionals should be considered when researching and choosing a financial professional. Remember that no task is successful unless you follow through.